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Wagner / Pape, Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin


Release Date: 10/04/2011 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001529702  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  René PapePlacido Domingo
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



WAGNER Arias and scenes from Die Walküre; Die Meistersinger; Lohengrin; Parsifal; Tannhäuser René Pape (bs); Daniel Barenboim, cond; Staatskapelle Berlin O; Staatsoper Unter den Linden Ch DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON B0015297-02 (63:10 Text and Translation)


Bass (or as some would have it, bass-baritone) René Pape is one of the finest singers, if not the finest, in Read more that vocal range today. Good bass voices are rare, excellent ones are cause for celebration, and Pape certainly falls into the latter category. He is a world-class singer and role interpreter, and it is always a pleasure to see or hear him perform. The problem for basses attempting a disc of operatic excerpts is finding enough material that will sustain interest while still being felicitous to the voice. That problem is only compounded when limiting the singer to a single composer. I can understand Deutsche Grammophon’s decision to record an all-Wagner program and Pape’s eagerness to take it on; he can sing in his native language and the music holds tremendous appeal for the home crowd. But this recording also demonstrates the limits to available repertoire for bass voice, even in Wagner.


There is quite a bit of Wotan’s music available, for instance, here and there in the four operas that comprise the Ring cycle, but finding discrete chunks of Wotan that are a reasonable length and sustain musical interest is more difficult. Wotan’s farewell and magic fire music at the end of Die Walküre is a good choice because it is fine lyrical music, unlike the monologs that precede it, and allows the singer to display all of the emotions in play as Wotan prepares to leave his disobedient daughter. Although Pape has collaborated extensively with conductor Daniel Barenboim in the past, he is somewhat new to this role, as is also the case with the Hans Sachs excerpts from Die Meistersinger that follow, so it may be a case of the two trying out new recipes on the guests at the party here. Fortunately, Pape pulls it off in excellent fashion, though he seems at times to be swamped by the orchestra, particularly in the three Wotan cuts. Pape also styles the music differently from some others, singing a sustained melodic line much as in Mozart, rather than bellowing out everything at forte . This makes his reading seem a bit more subdued, but he is aided by the orchestra in being able to create a powerful effect for the angry yet grieving god in the first extended scene.


As is usually the case in Wagner, the orchestra shares star billing with the performer. Here, the Staatskapelle Berlin performs in sublime fashion, producing a gorgeous, lush soundscape in the many intervals when it alone is playing, and supporting Pape’s vocals with consummate skill. Barenboim is an old hand at this music, a skilled Wagnerian, and he almost never puts a foot wrong, although some tempos are taken differently from what may be the norm. Beyond Die Walküre and Die Meistersinger the other major excerpt comes from the Good Friday Scene in act III of Parsifal , where Pape’s burnished tones, solid intonation, and exceptional diction are fully on display. He is assisted in this music not only by the wonderful orchestra but by a still superior tenor by the name of Domingo. Pape has played the role of Gurnemanz several times, and seems fully at home here, as the two very good singers play off of each other. Pape closes the disc with the lovely “O du mein holder Abendstern” from act III of Tannhäuser, and does pretty well, but doesn’t really have the high baritone range necessary for the piece.


I must give high marks to Pape and Barenboim for finding enough good Wagnerian music to sustain interest in listening to a bass voice for an hour or so of music. Of course, the fine orchestra helps out tremendously and Domingo does his not inconsiderable bit. As a fan of René Pape I would like to hear more variety from him, with highlights of some of his numerous non-Wagner roles, but this disc is an excellent start and will be appreciated by many.


FANFARE: Bill White
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die Walküre: Leb' wohl..."Farewell and Magic Fire music" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
2.
Die Walküre: Der Augen leuchtendes Paar by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
3.
Die Walküre: Loge, hör! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
4.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Was duftet doch der Flieder by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
5.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Hört, ihr Leut, und laßt euch sagen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
6.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Verachtet mir die Meister by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Germany 
7.
Lohengrin: Gott grüss euch by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
8.
Parsifal: O Gnade! Höchstes Heil by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
9.
Parsifal: Und ich, ich bin's by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
10.
Parsifal: Gesegnet sei, du Reiner, durch das Reine! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
11.
Parsifal: Wie dünkt mich doch die Aue heut so schön! "Good Friday Music" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
12.
Tannhäuser: O, du mein holder Abendstern by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Pape (Bass)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 

Sound Samples

Die Walküre / Dritter Aufzug: Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind!
Die Walküre / Dritter Aufzug: Der Augen leuchtendes Paar
Die Walküre / Dritter Aufzug: Loge, hör! Lausche hieher!
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Act 2: "Was duftet doch der Flieder"
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Act 2: Hört, ihr Leut, und laßt euch sagen
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Act 3: "Verachtet mir die Meister nicht"
Lohengrin / Act 1: Gott grüß' euch, liebe Männer von Brabant!
Parsifal / Act 3: Oh Gnade! Höchstes Heil! - Oh Herr! War es ein Fluch
Parsifal / Act 3: Und ich, ich bin's - Nicht doch! Die heilge Quelle selbst
Parsifal / Act 3: Gesegnet sei, du Reiner, durch das Reine! (Gurnemanz, Parsifal)
Parsifal / Act 3: Wie dünkt mich doch die Aue
Tannhäuser / Act 3: Wie Todesahnung... O du mein holder Abendstern (Wolfram)

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